Thursday, September 30, 2010

NY frame of mind

Ah New York.

Noise. Sites. People. Traffic. Snarls and rushing voices. Accents grating against the shoreline of my mind like sand grating against an oyster's shell. The sounds, unexpected. At first confusing. Undecipherable. And then, they begin to make sense. To round out. The vowels longer. Wider. The consonants slurred.

I noticed it first on the plane. There was a man across the aisle. His accent was flat. Mid-western I think. But some words escaped me -- though his conversation didn't. It was impossible not to hear him.

He was on his phone. The flight was boarding and he sat and held a conversation with an unseen woman on the other end of the line. I know she was a woman. Apparently she's going to Alaska and would have looked really good in the red outfit he saw. Too bad I didn't buy it for you, he joked.

But I don't think he was really joking. There's something going on there. Or at least, he wishes there was. But then, it's because of her he doesn't look as sloppy as his business partners in the deal they're doing in China. They're sloppy. No paperwork. Nothing to track efficiently the use of funds they've sent over. $300,000 x 2. The investors want to know. Who's going to tell them? They're slopped.

But he's not. He's got her and Jeff and Brian and Tom. Good thing. He's the one filled with the good ideas. But he needs them to keep him looking good. And organized.

Fortunately, the Captain announced we were preparing for take-off and all phones had to be turned off.

It does amaze me though how people can talk in loud voices in small, confined spaces and think they're having a personal conversation.

And now, I'm in New York. Arrived in at 4:30. Took a cab to my friends in Brooklyn where I was greeted with a chilled glass of white wine, truffle cheese and crackers and... the promise of an evening of dance.

We went to see Pina Bausch's, Vollmund. And oh my. It was at the Brooklyn Art museum, BAM. What a beautiful building.

It's what I miss after so many years still about living in the west. Our architecture is so young. So sterile. So new. BAM was built in the mid 1800s. Completely refurbished it is exquisite.

As was the performance. Wow! The dancers played and ran and danced in water. Pouring water raining down. A river on the stage. Buckets and scoops. A huge rock the only structure on the stage, it became part of the play. And it was incredible.

And after the performance, the founders and supports opening night reception upstairs. The space was incredible. Huge arching girders strewn with twinkle lights. Open beams and rafters. Enormous arched windows filled with a series of moving light works. And food and wine and conversation.

My ears became attuned to the accent. Words began to make sense. Sounds to flow more effortlessly.

And I am in New York. Yippee!

One of my favourite cities in the world.

All is well with my world. I'm off to a day of adventure. To meet up with my co-presenter at the conference and then to check in.

It should be an exciting day.

A tout a l'heure!

PS. My daughter is okay. She is amazing! :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New York New York

I am off to New York city today. A much anticipated and welcome trip. A trip with some stress.

My youngest daughter, who had a seizure in the Netherlands in June and was diagnosed as possibly having epilepsy, had another seizure on the weekend. Not as dramatic as the first, but a seizure none the less. She's off to the doctor's office today to discuss a drug plan, and I want to be with her.

But my flight to New York leaves at 7:30am and her appointment is at 11:00.

I'll postpone my flight and go tomorrow, I suggested.

No way. she replied. I don't want you to do that.

I'm not doing it. C.C. is going with her as is her boyfriend -- but I want to be there.

And yet...

the NY trip is an exciting opportunity.

I am presenting at a conference -- Performing the World. the topic -- How a homeless shelter, a city arts & culture department and an actor can come together to make magic possible.

Which is what happened last year at Two Bit Oper-eh-Shun and all the other art events we held through This is My City.

It's amazing to think that we're presenting at this conference -- and I'm excited.

and I'm torn

I want to be here.

To be here for my daughter.

And she insists I not change my plans.

So, I go knowing she is in good hands. That her well-being is protected and well cared for by others who love her.

And I want to be here.

I smile somewhat forced, somewhat amused by my human condition and my mother's concern. I so want to be here. I so need to let her go and know that I am okay being where I am scheduled to be.

It will be okay.

As I told her. I'm a control freak honey. I want to ensure everything is addressed at your doctor's appointment.

Write me a list of questions to ask she suggested.

So I have.

And still....

I am off today on a 7:30 am flight.

I'll be back Monday.

I'll still b e able to post from New YOrk.

which is my plan.

I'm meeting Onalea Gilbertson, the inspiration behind Two Bit Oper-eh-Shun on Thursday at noon and then we're off to the conference together.

This evening, I'm off to a dance performance with friends in New York.

How exciting!

And still, I hesitate.

Time to breathe and put myself into the moment.

All is as it should be.

My daughter and I and her sister went to the hospital last evening for her MRI. We are connected, no matter how far apart we roam.

All is as it should be.

See you later as I update you on my adventures in New York!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

breathing into creativity (A Poem)


It was...
a creative feast
an intoxicating repast
creative energies
flowing
juicy
wild
exuberant

inner spirit
let loose
upon a canvas
white
bleeding
into
reds and greens
and blues and golds
warm and cool
rich and shimmery
colours ripening
into form
inner spark
lit
upon that moment
when the muse

alights
and all is
as it should be
meaning
transformed
into colour
rich
vibrant
alive.
splashed
and layered up
rainbow hues
tones
textures
of life
erupting
never ending

streaming
steaming
gleaming
onto
a story
waiting to be born
upon
the virginal snows
of a canvas
waiting.

It was...
a special time
to
be
grateful
awakening
with joy
rising

It was...
sublimely relaxing
artfully replete
soulfully replenishing

It was...
my creative retreat.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gone Painting

Gone Painting!

Have a wonder filled weekend of magic and mystery.

Hugs!

see you Monday.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's a brand new day (Repost)

Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the "right stuff" to turn our dreams into reality. James Womack
I went back into my old posts to see... how far have I come? How has my writing evolved? What have I learned. What have I changed? Is there a theme to my writing? My learning? My yearnings?...

This post was my third post on this blog. I began writing in this space on the tenth of March 2007. I began writing and kept writing. It was a commitment.

What I found fascinating about this piece is.... some things do not change. Keeping commitments is as important today as it was then. And even thought it becomes easier knowing I must keep my commitments to myself ... I still struggle to keep my commitments with myself.

There's good learning there. Good information for me to embrace and expand upon, breathe into.

Have a brand new day filled with miracles and never stop learning, never stop growing and evolving and embracing all that you can be when you live fearlessly in the rapture of now.

March 21, 2007. It's early. I stare at the blank page and wonder, what will I write?

Go back to bed the rebel inside me whispers. Why bother?

Shhhh, I tell the voice of letting myself off the hook. I made a commitment. I will write on this page every day whether I have 'something to say' or nothing to report. I will write.

The blank page keeps staring back.I need to trust. Trust in the process of writing. Trust in the creative spirit. Trust in me.

A new day rises as under a blanket of snow, spring emerges, hopefully, and I wonder, what will it bring? I cannot see into the future and yet, I trust that spring will appear from beneath the snow. I have confidence in the weather. Confidence in the turning of the seasons. I can feel spring in the air, feel it awakening from beneath winter's blanket.I stare at the blank screen.

Turn and gaze out the window. I cannot see into the murky darkness where white flakes tumble to the ground. The house is quiet and I feel sleepy. I think about going back to bed and then remember my commitment. I will write a new page every day.

What if I don't do it? What if I just go back to bed? Nothing will be lost. Just a page that won't be created. And I'll be able to enjoy a few more minutes sleep.I made a commitment.

I need to keep it. I need to stay true to myself. This is for me.

There's a recurring theme here. Make a commitment to myself. Compromise. Lose the commitment. Lose the opportunity to turn up for me.If I don't keep this commitment, what other commitment to myself won't I keep?

I think about advantages. Reasons why I need to do it and of course, reasons why I don't have to bother.

My commitment is to write on this page everyday. See what happens. See what develops. There's no real purpose other than to write every morning. Create a new habit. Create something of value -- possibly. Create a sense of well-being -- for sure. I'll be keeping a commitment I made with myself.

That's a biggie.How many times have I said, I will lose 10 pounds. I will go to the gym every day. I will ...And then not done it?

How many times have I let myself down? Let myself off the hook? Let myself get away with behaviour that does not support me, does not make me feel like I count, does not make me feel like I make a difference? How many times?

I can't count them. But there's a theme here. A pattern I've slipped into over time of making little commitments, and big one's, and then not following through. And when I don't I know what I will feel -- that's when I can tell the future!

Because when I don't keep my commitments, whether with myself or others, I feel like a fraud. A liar. A person without integrity.

That is not who I want to be. Not how I want to feel.

I need to make different choices. Need to turn up for me so that I can count on me to keep my commitments.

I make a commitment to write on this page every day.

I do it.

Commitments are not to be broken. Keeping a commitment with myself is my opportunity to be accountable. To turn up for me and make a difference. Keeping a commitment with myself is my opportunity to be true to me. And to build self-esteem. To build upon my sense of well-being. To like me!

It's not important says the rebel within me. It won't matter if you stay in bed and sleep. It won't matter if you don't do this.

But it will matter.

To me.

And I count.

And so, on this brand new day as daylight slides across the sky pushing darkness into the envelope of night yawning on the horizon and spring stirs beneath a blanket of falling snow, I begin the process of keeping a commitment I made to myself.

I begin again.

It's a brand new day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back pain and splashing paints.

If you want to translate the world, you need to use your appetites. Kathy Richards
...I am off for the weekend to splash about in paint. To throw myself at a canvas and let magic happen... However it may appear. Off to RiverRock Studio, an artist's retreat centre nestled at the foot of the Rockies in rolling hills and forest green. It's a place of tranquility and inspiration. Where sunset bruises mountain peaks and cougars roam and nimble deer nibble at grasses on the lawn.

I woke this morning, my head stuffed up, ears ringing, body aching. I doubt I can go paint this weekend, my critter whispered in my head. I just want to sleep.

Really? You want to back out of playing in paintpots, mixing it up to create rainbows on canvas? Really?

Yeah. I'll be too tired. I need to take care of me.

Uh huh. What's with that? You just don't want to step outside of your discomfort zone and release the genie or maybe even the genius, of your creativity. This my friend is a self-defeating game.

What if it is? I get to play any game I want. It's my life.

Yeah? Well then, how about playing the game of life on the lighter side? You know, dancing in the rivers of creative expression, grasping onto nothing but a paintbrush and an idea that from nothing something will appear...

Don't you hate it when your better self has more reason than your critter self?

I'm off to paint for the weekend.

... Last night my eldest daughter came into the bedroom after returning from a play with C.C and said, "You're out of balance mom. You're not your usual self. You work too hard, too much. You need to take care of you."

I normally have my meditation group on Wednesday night but two factors have been playing havoc with my ability to sit still this week. One, this cold that has my head throbbing and two, a much more critical component of meditation -- my back has been throbbing, and sitting is the one thing that hurts it most.

So last night, I gave into the need to be quiet and instead of going out, got into bed and relaxed. It was the perfect thing for me to do.

I've still got a head cold. My back is still not happy, happy, but, I feel more grounded, more centered, more me.

And a note to self -- don't sneeze when your back is not happy. Ouch!

But then, head colds, back pain, sneezes, whatever's with me, I'm always still all me.

... On Tuesday night I went to a benefit concert for Bone and Joint Research. My musing yesterday was threaded with my wonderings from the night before. I sat amidst the who's who of the city, amidst designer couture and designer watches and wondered 'how do I fit in here?' And then I realized -- I really do fit in. My back is aching. It hurts to sit and standing up from sitting is a real pain. I really do fit in.

Somethings I didn't know... 40% of women over the age of 50 will suffer a bone break where Osteoporsis is the secondary cause.

400,000 Albertans will be affected by bone and joint disease.

1 in 10 Canadians suffer from osteoporosis.

Back pain is the no. 1 cause of time lost on the job. It adds up to a $27 billion a year 'industry' -- both medical costs and job loss costs.

... And today, at the shelter where I work, we will be celebrating the lives of three men who passed away recently. The oldest, was 84. He had been a client of the shelter for many years, living on one of our transitional floors for the past five years. The average age of death at the shelter is 47.9. The average age of death of a 'housed' Calgarian is 82.4, the highest in the province. Researchers quote 'higher level of income' as the main factor in Calgarian's longer life expectancy. Calgary Herald, If you live in Calgary, you may live longer. September 22,

Today's blog is a Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday edition. Hosted by Duane Scott, bloggers are invited to reveal their pleasantly disturbing thinking patterns every Thursday.

Aren't you glad you're not in my head? :)

And thank you again to Kathy Richards for her blog yesterday, Stay Hungry, from whence I lifted the quote at the beginning of this blog today.

It's all good in a Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday kind of way!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unleashed

“What you really have to do, if you want to be creative, is to unlearn all the teasing and censoring that you’ve experienced throughout your life. If you are truly a creative person, you know that feeling insecure and lonely is par for the course. You can’t have it both ways: You can’t be creative and conform, too. You have to recognize that what makes you different also makes you creative.” Arno Penzias, 1978 Nobel Prize winner for physics
Unlearn. Unlearn the past. Unleash the memory. Undo the experience.

And learn.

Learn to be unique. To be nonconforming. To be unconventional.

Learn to let yourself shine. To let yourself be the mirror of your perfection. The reverse side of the coin of your imperfection.

Let your imperfection be your perfect expression.

It is the way of the artist. The path of the creative.

To be. Different. Out of step with the norm. In tune with the muse. In concert with perfection. In harmony through imperfection.

I struggle with this. the nonconformity. The being different. The being perfectly embraced by my imperfection.

I struggle.

I want to fit in. To be part of the 'in', on the inside of 'society circles' where smiles skim the surface of perfectly groomed handshakes holding firm and coiffed do's up the ante of the woman behind the power of an empire building standing tall.

And I want to be out. Outside the in crowd. Standing tall. Standing up for who I am and what I believe in.

I want to be beyond the norm. At the edge of conventional. Tumbling over the edge of conformity.

I don't want to be part of the cocktail circuit.

I want to rip off my cocktail dress and stand naked and at ease in the awkward streets of my nonconformity making waves.

I want to be embraced in the creative circle of my dreams exploding sideways and into ways I never imagined.

Inside. Off side. Outside. Upside down.

Within the inner side of my creative soul feeling its wet juicy skin slipping beneath my touch. Slipping away into that place where I am holy within my creative essence, unfettered by convention, unhampered by rules of engagement.

I want to be free. Of being conscious of your thinking about what I'm doing. I want to be free of worrying about your opinion.

Can't be free when I'm tied to the belief, I need to fit in to have meaning. To have a place at your table I must dress in your clothing.

I want to dress in my skin and be exposed.

It's okay to be different. It's okay to be me.

The quote at the top of this blog came from Kathy Richards blog this morning Stay Hungry. It's a really inspiring read and I invite you to click on over to her place and have a read.

I wanted to try some free-form associative writing this morning and Penzias' quote and Kathy's blog were the perfect inspiration.

Try it.

Let the words settle into you and then, unhook your thinking, release your fingers and let them fly across the keys.

You might be amazed at what appears. I was!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Opening from the heart.

It was the first Sunday after he was arrested. Four days since being released from that living hell of his abuse. And she was tired. Oh so tired.

My friend and I are going to church. Why don't you come with us? her sister asked.

She wasn't really capable of making decisions. She couldn't decide to go, or not to go and so she simply went. With the flow. In it. Part of it.

It was a beautiful May morning. Blue sky. Warm air. West coast spring in full bloom

She sat amidst the throng, her sister on one side, her friend on the other and still she felt apart. From the spring morning. The smiling worshippers. The laughter and greetings of the congregation.

She was numb. Cold. Alone. Filled with brokenness, her heart a thousand pieces shattered against the framework of ribcage holding her broken heart within her body. Every breath a painful inhalation of sorrow, a fractured exhalation of grief.

The music started. A band. One part of her mind noticed their joy, their happy smiles, their exultant voices. The other part scoffed.

What blind faith. How stupid. How ridiculous. Couldn't they see it was useless? Didn't they know there was no point?

The congregation stood and started singing with the band. She stood with them. She had no choice. She was part of the crowd. She was simply doing what needed to be done to fit in.

And she felt so alone. So apart. So distant. So different.

How could they be so happy? How could they express such love and joy?

She moved her lips as if to sing. No sound escaped.

She moved her eyes upwards, to the giant screen suspended from the ceiling. Her eyes followed the words of the song. Her mind slowly registered the letters, creating words from the groupings of vowels and consonants. Creating meaning.

Tears began to flow. She couldn't stop them, no matter how hard she struggled to stem their flow. They kept falling. She hid her face. Covered her eyes. And still they fell. And fell.

"Open the eyes of my heart Lord.
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see you.
I want to see you."

Seven years later, those words still resonate. Those words still quieten her fears, her tears, her sorrow.

Seven years later that song still causes her to pause, to pay attention, to wonder, "Is it possible? Could He love her simply because she is His child?"

The brokenness runs deep. She still doesn't quite believe. Still doesn't quite embrace the void.

Her mind is strong. Her thinking ingrained. She isn't strong on obedience. Not too good at blind faith. Her rational mind likes to be in control. To hold the reigns of her belief fast. She doesn't want to trust in the unseen. She doesn't want to give up her control.

And still, those words. That song. A balm to brokenness. A psalm of joyfulness.

Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Open the eyes of my heart.

It's One Word Blog Carnival Tuesday. Today's one word prompt is: Brokenness. Link on over to visit the One Word Blog Carnival at Bridget Chumbley’s place and you'll find the many aspects of brokenness pieced together in the heartfelt sharing of the bloggers who have come together today to participate in this delightful be-weekly event.

.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gone is the knight. (A Poem)

Last week I had a lovely visitor here from a woman named 'Jingle'. She invited me to participate in The Poetry Potluck.

At Poetry Potluck... Every week, MckLinky will be up (at the Poetry Potluck blog) on Sunday, at 8pm (CST), and will stay open till Tuesday, 8pm (CST). So you will have 48 hours to share up to 3 poems with us...WONDERFUL!!

It is what I find so inspiring about this place. People pop in with lovely invitations, leaving behind gems -- little morsels that lead to places of wonder, like all the poets already linked at The Poetry Potluck blog.

Immerse yourself in some wonder and link on over to Poetry Potluck to check out all the offerings. They're mighty nurturing and nourishing for the soul!

And, while you're there... let yourself be inspired to create a poem or two to share!



Gone is the Knight

Where are you now
my knight in shining armour?
I searched for you
and lost
myself
between the turning pages
of once upon a time
where white knights
leaped
across the void
to sweep me away
upon a new dawn rising
on the rosy promise
of Prince Charming
riding in on a horse
named
Happily Ever After.

Long gone
are the white knights
of happily ever afters
yet sometimes
at night
when the moon
lies
high
its golden orb
punched out
drunk upon the light
of a thousand stars
pinned haphazardly
upon night's dark blanket
I lie awake
and dreaming
waiting
for you
to streak across the sky
and fill the void
with dreams of
happily ever after.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mysteries to behold

Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise. Julia Cameron
During my meditation group session on Wednesday night I had a moment that quite literally, blew my mind.

I was sitting in the quiet, feeling the music move through me, feeling the air, the space, the energy of the group moving all around and through and under and in me. It had taken awhile to ground that evening. To slip out of monkey mind chatter into that place where I was present, in the moment, conscious of my being, my thinking, my feeling, my essence.

And then, my mind went black. Completely dark. An empty void. I felt as if my eyeballs were pulling away from their sockets, moving back into my skull. The darkness was intense. Profound and as it descended a thought scurried through. "Enough with thinking, Louise. Your mind has had control long enough. Time to let it go."

After the session, I shared my experience with the group and Dal, our guide suggested I watch out for integration of the experience over the next few days, "Big things are on the move."

Last night, I had my first session with Barb. An energy healer, shaman, spiritual guide, Barb has a PhD in Women's Studies and Spiritual Healing. She's taught nursing, from practical to management studies. Five years ago she said, enough. Enough of the academic world, of meetings and committees. She retired and set up her practice as a practitioner in the healing arts.

She is one powerful woman. One amazing guide.

Before we began any 'healing' work, Barb and I spent an hour and a half talking about 'the healing arts'. About chakras and energy fields. About emotions and emotional bonding and release.

I told her of my experience in meditation the night before and her eyes lit up and a gentle laugh burbled up from within her. "There are no accidents," she said. "Just mysteries to behold."

It was no accident that I went to see Barb last night.

There are mysteries to behold.

And I am the beholder.

The holder of the mysteries within me coming to light as I journey this path of self-discovery, exploring the power within rising up to meet the power above and below and all around me.

In two weeks time, the documentary based on the story I told in The Dandelion Spirit will be released.

I have a habit, I told Barb, of abandoning my creative products. Of setting them out into the world and letting them fend for themselves.

I know The Dandelion Spirit has a powerful story that resonates with many people. I've had so many people come to me to tell me of how the book has helped them, 'saved their life' as some have said.

And I know, I have not done much to nurture my creation out in the world.

"What's stopping you?" Barb asked.

And the answer surprised me -- but actually, it doesn't really surprise me. It is so human.

Ego, I said. Who am I to be promoting myself? To think that I have answers for others?

What if you flip the picture and look at it as service? she asked.

And I saw it.

The book is not an ego expression. It is an expression of my experience and the courage and strength I found in my journey away from abuse. It is an act of service. Of holding a space for others to find themselves beneath the horror of abuse. that place where they find their strength to stand up again, to be strong and proud in a place where they are free to heal, to grow, to flourish.

In a few weeks the documentary will be released and there is much I can do to support both the book and women and men who have found themselves lost in the arms of the one they love, looking for sense in the nonsense of their abuse.

I am on a path. On a journey. On a beautiful, mysterious and magical ride open to receive the mysteries of my life as they unfold.

What fun! What adventure awaits. What mystery awakens.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let me go.

My poet-child, I want you to sing with Me:
I barter nothing with time and deeds.

My cosmic Play is done.

The One Transcendental I was.

The Many Universal I am.

I am the Soul-Flower of My Eternity.

I am the Heart-Fragrance of My Infinity.
Sri Chinmoy
There is a place, deep within me, where the "knowing" slips away into the "nothing to do but be".

That place where I am at peace with who I am, where I am, what I am, being. It isn't a place I touch very often. It isn't a place that reaches me frequently. In my busy, gotta get it done, be there, be here, be this, or that world, that place of 'nothing but what is', can be elusive. It's not that it's gone away, it's just that I'm too engrossed in all my busy-ness to feel its presence softening my heart.

Last night at my meditation group, I felt that place. Felt its depth, its quiet, its beauty.

It touched me and I touched it and I was at peace.I thought about what energy I would want to share with him and it was Love. I breathed in Love. I exhaled Love. I let Love carry me.

We were seven. Dal the leader, his partner Barb, and five others. C.C. came with me last night. It was his first time. I thought about being nervous. Being conscious of his presence and decided it was not necessary. Not part of my 'schtick'. He was there to have his own experience. Just as I was there to experience mine. We were both part of the whole. Vital. Integral. Essential in our presence.

I thought about what energy I would want to share with him and it was Love. I breathed in Love. I exhaled Love. I let Love carry me.

I breathed.

In this meditation practice there is a grounding exercise and then music. The music is a vehicle. It carries us through time and space, it resonates in the air around us, within us, about us. The exercise is not to 'listen' to the music but to feel it. To let it move through you like a breeze through the leaves of a tree.

I let the music be my guide. I became part of the music and found myself in a beautiful meadow. My little child was there. She was sitting amidst the flowers, waiting for me.

She's been waiting a long time for me to turn up.

"What do you need sweetheart?" I asked her.

"To be safe," she replied. There was no accusation in her voice. No sense of dismay or disappointment. Simply truth.

I picked her up. Held her in my arms.

"Holding me won't keep me safe," she whispered. "Let me go."

Ahh, the wisdom of a child.

In the creative space of my imagination, eyes closed, I looked around the circle. All our children were there. All our children wanted to feel safe.

I opened my arms. Wide.

My child danced in the sunlight. She laughed and played amidst the wildflowers and the other children.

On beams of light and laughter they danced off into the distance. Off into that place where I cannot go if I am to be fully present in the here and now of this my life today.

I breathed.

At the end of the meditation, Dal went around the circle asking each what we had to share of our experiences.

I shared the story of the little girl, the children playing, dancing into the light.

"What did that feel like for you?" he asked. "To create safety for the children."

"It was my job," I replied. "My responsibility."

There was no question of 'Can I?' Can't I? How do I? What do I do?

There was only acceptance. Acceptance of 'this is my role'. It is what I must do.

There was harmony in the air last night. Harmony and peace and tranquility and surrender.

My mind wants to control.

My being knows my thinking has kept me still, kept me silent, kept me trapped in my doing long enough.

Time to unleash my creativity and let myself go.

My child is safe.

My world is full when I turn up, fearlessly in love with all that I am letting go of being anyone but who I am, In Love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Somedays. Every day.

I am on the second floor Day Area of the shelter where I work. It is a large area where people can sit, watch TV, read, chat, sit with their head resting on a tabletop, play cards. We are open 24/7. The area is seldom quiet and today is no exception.

The weather outside is gloomy. Inside almost every chair is filled. Six hundred plus people sitting, waiting, dreaming, scheming, staring silently into space. It is busy. The air abuzz with voices chatting, laughing, arguing, grumbling. There is a closeness to the air, a tiredness to the bodies. The steamy smell of wet clothing, weary bones, tired spirits.

There is a hum in the air, but little urgency. Little sense of 'gotta go'. The weather outside is dreary. There is nowhere else to be.

This is a space of waiting. Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for life to appear in some other form. Waiting for the next blip in the flow of energy all around.

I am standing at the front of the large open space talking to one of our staff, a front-line care giver. I'm in search of two clients, both of whom are artists. Both of whom I need to have a conversation with to address two separate situations that need discussing. Neither are on the floor.

The staff member and I talk about the energy on the floor. There is always a rise inside the room of temperature and tempers when the weather starts to turn. Always a closing in of tenseness as hundreds of people adjust to being indoors in close quarters.

The staff member is telling me a funny story about something he'd experienced when he stops, mid sentence, and rushes away.

I hadn't heard the voice calling at first, but his ears, finely tuned to every nuance of the Day Area did.

"Seizure!" a voice rises out above the din. "Seizure!"

I watch the staff member move quickly to a table not far from where we're standing. Three other staff join him. They push the table aside as the three people still sitting, causally move their chairs out of the way.

A woman is lying on the floor. She is convulsing.

I watch a female staff member bend down, place a jacket under her head, move several backpacks out of the way. She talks softly to the woman on the ground. There is care here. Concern. Professionalism and compassion.

Around me, the room holds a collective breath. People stare over towards the tableau of the woman on the ground, the staff member kneeling beside her, three staff standing, waiting, watching.

It's all in the timing. How long does the seizure last?

They wait.

Within a couple of minutes, it's over.

A collective sigh is released. No need for EMS.

The room begins its hum once again. Activity continues.

It's as if nothing untoward has taken place.

And, in this place of rock bottom and broken spirits, nothing untoward has happened.

In a place where 35% of the people we serve are actively engaged in their addictions, seizures are commonplace. On any given day, a review of our Logs shows 5 to 10 entries about seizures. The majority, like this woman's seizure, do not require medical intervention. The majority, like this woman's, are related to drug or alcohol abuse.

It is the tragedy of addictions. For some people, particularly those in late stage addictions, seizures are a commonplace occurrence, sometimes happening once or twice a day. The brain, no longer able to cope with the constant barrage of chemicals, begins to break down, to lose its ability to cope, to operate smoothly. Electrical charges fire indiscriminately, in tandem with the impact of the individual's drug or alcohol usage upon their body.

It is a tragedy and yet, it is part of the environment. Part of this world called 'homelessness'. The seizures are not an outcome of homelessness though, they are a result of abuse.

I stand at the front of the room. Waiting. Watching.

It doesn't take long. Three, four minutes. The woman stands up. The table is moved back to its original position. Occupants scoot their chairs back into formation around it. The woman sits down again. She looks slightly dazed. Confused. But she's ok.

The hum of voices rises once again. The air takes on its heaviness filled with people for whom this floor, this area of waiting -- for time to pass, for dinner to be served, for the next momentary spike in activity to arise -- a fight, a seizure, a thrown plate. It doesn't matter the disturbance, it is a disruption to the flow, a blip in the dreary circumstances of homelessness.

The staff member returns to finish his story. He mentions the woman's name who had the seizure. She is well-known. She is not generally a 'trouble-maker'. She is mostly compliant. Seizures are commonplace in her daily routine. Late stage alcoholism does that.

It's really tragic, the staff member says, that there isn't more we can do.

And he's right.

It is tragic.

We are doing all we can, but somewhere, long ago, in this woman's past, many things happened to set her on this path, to lead her to this place.

Her journey is our journey.

Her sorrow, our sorrow.

She is in her forties. Native. Raised off reserve by 'whites'. She never knew where she fit in. Never knew which path was hers. Until one day, too far from that place where she once might have had a chance to take a different direction, she found herself here, in this place. This place where the native population is inordinately represented. 19% of our clients are First Nations. It is disproportionately high to our general population.

There isn't much we can do other than what we do. 24/7. 365 days of the year.

Keep her safe. Shelter her. Feed her. Protect her as best we can from feeling the harshness of the reality of her life today.

Like so many, she's tried rehab. Had it with counselling and detox and trying to make sense of the nonsense that has overcome her life.

In this place she's found a safe haven. A safe place to belong.

Somedays, there are no answers to the craziness of the world around us. Somedays, all we can do is hold a space for someone to be exactly where they are, who they are, how they are, as we struggle to stay present to their need to be in that place where we accept, we don't have their answers. We only have a place for them to belong, for as long as they need us, however they need us, whenever that may be.

Nameste.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In the Mist of Autumn Falling (poem)

In the Mist of Autumn Falling

I wrote this poem for Abbey of the Arts Poetry Party #47, the theme for which is "Autumn Blessings". the photograph is one of the Abbey's Christine Valters Paintners prompts for the poetry party.

Anyone may share his or her inspiration at Abbey of the Arts by contributing a poem "about the gifts, graces, invitations, questions, and challenges of autumn." Be sure to provide in the comments section here the text of your poem and, if you wish, a link to your blog or the site where your poem appears.

On Friday, September 17, a name from among those participating will be drawn at random. The winner will receive a signed copy of Christine Valters Paintner's Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements. Thank you Maureen at Writing without Paper for the descriptive words to Abbey of the Arts Poetry Party.

In the Mist of Autumn Falling

siltently autumn falls
red and gold
upon a bed of green
cool like your touch
upon my cheek
I feel your breath
gently rising in the mist
whispering, whispering.

whispering
sweet succulent words
of promises
never spoken
strewn like fallen leaves
upon the story
of our love
lost
and never found
in autumn falling all around.

you were so fresh
the breath of spring
bathing
my senses
in the heady dew
of your touch
awakening my soul’s
journey back
to the cradle of your arms.

safe, I surrendered
to your voice calling me
home
home to where my heart
breaks
open
I fall
in love.
and then you are gone
gone like summer
falling, falling.

falling into autumn's embrace
I lay
still
my heart
beats
silently
in the mist of autumn
falling.

Friendship: a gift to be shared

Guest House

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

My friend C.C.W. sent me the poem above this morning. I've never met C.C.W. but for the past three years we've shared a wonderful connection through this wired place. This morning, when I opened my email, there she was. Filled with light and encouragement and wisdom and a gentle spirit that resonates so harmoniously with mine.

Seven and a half years ago when I first started using the Internet as a place to connect with people on a daily basis, I was wounded and bruised and battered. I needed somewhere, someone to see me, hear me, help me. I had just been released from a relationship with a man who promised to love me 'til death do us part and who was actively engaged in making the 'death' part my reality. He was in jail. I was free and I was lost.

So I came to cyberland.

It was here that I first found my voice. It was here that I found people who had experiences similar to mine and who were willing to share their wisdom, courage and experience. In their sharing I found the courage to heal. I found the strength to keep breathing, to keep 'letting it go', to keep digging into myself to find my truth.

In the course of those first few months after his arrest, my 'cyber friends' were my lifeline to normalcy. They understood where others couldn't -- not because they didn't want to or didn't try, but rather because they could not. Encounters of the disorderly personality kind seem incomprehensible in a world where 'I love you' is a caring promise. To the personality disordered 'I love you' is an empty phrase that can also mean, 'I hate you', 'I own you', 'I am repelled by you', 'I must break you and make you like me'. For those who have never had an intimate encounter, it is hard to believe someone would willingly, knowingly, consciously do the things personality disordered kin do.

My cyberfriends knew what I was going through and helped me through it.

This place called 'cyberland' is a powerful place -- when used with discretion, when visited with care, when treated with respect. I have met a few not so well-intentioned folk over the years, but mostly, I've met people just like me. People seeking their truth, walking their path as best they can.

I've been blessed. I've met some of my virtual friends in reality and been thrilled to find the cyber-bond just as real in real life. C.Z., who sometimes visits here, was one of my very first encounters. C.Z. continues to be a dear and trusted friend today. C.Z. and I have survived cyberwars, we've survived misunderstandings, we've survived other people's manipulations to create havoc. And while C.Z. and I have never met face to face, we have a shared experience that connects us. Like 'Matilda', CZ and I go 'waaay' back. We've seen each others falls and each others triumphs on the path.

Writing here I have met more amazing people as well. Maureen. Diane. Joyceann. Glynn. Brandi. Sandra. nAncY. L.L. Jeff. Susan. Kat. Mark. Kathleen, all of whom share their beauty and wonder every day on their blogs. (You'll find them in my blog list in the right-hand sidebar.)

It is an amazing place, this cyberland and my world is richer for the people I know in this place.

Thank you C.C.W. for reminding me this morning that there is wonder in every connection and beauty all around.

Friendship comes in many forms. It is always a gift to be shared.

Thank you everyone for sharing your friendship so generously.

I am blessed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm not ok and that's ok.

I'm not okay. You're not okay. And that's okay. Elizabeth Kϋbler Ross
My eldest daughter and I were talking about her frustration with moving back to Calgary and some of the challenges she faces with 'getting around'. Calgary is not a non-vehicle friendly city. It's a spread out, wide-open spaces kind of place where distance between point 'a' and point 'b' is regularly measured in double digit miles and/or kilometres. It's also a place where public transportation can be slow, very slow.

Her sister has a car which once we get it back on the road will make getting about easier for her -- but the deal is she has to drive her sister around as well until she gets her license back. And, as you can imagine, between two sisters, no matter the love or closeness, there can be some dissension when it comes to the balancing of what's an acceptable limit/parameter for picking up, dropping off, couriering around.

And so... our conversations have centered around acceptance. Acceptance of what is, reality, 'the now', the 'truth'.

"I only moved back to help her out," she said after commenting about having to spend an evening driving her sister around.

"Is that true?" I ask patiently (honest, I was patient).

"Yes," she replied adamantly.

"Is it 100% true?" I ask again in my best Byron Katie impersonation.

"Well..." and the truth pours out.

And it's all about acceptance.

Of what is. What isn't. What could have been if only... What might have been if I'd done b instead of a, c instead of d. It's tinged with fear and uncertainty, exasperation and frustration. It's filled with what is real.

In the now there is only one reality. And it is the one we often have the most difficulty accepting.
In the now, there are no excuses. No places to be instead of where I'm at.

In the now, there is only acceptance.

It's a tough place to be, in the now. It demands our best, in whatever form that takes when we are being real. It doesn't require our perfection. In fact, more often than not, it takes our imperfection to be in the now.

Imperfection doesn't come to humans easily. We tend to think it's not ok to show emotion. It's not ok to feel 'negative' values in life's circumstances. We tend to believe we need to achieve the, "I am perfect, there's nothing else for me to do," kind of perfection in order to be 'human'.

To be perfectly human we only need to relinquish our need to be anyone or anything other than who we are, however that manifests in any moment.

It's ok to feel irritated. It's ok to feel petty and jealous and angry and sad. It's ok to feel these things.

Challenge is, we tend to believe feeling these things makes us these things. And that's just not who we are.

We are perfectly human in all our human imperfection.

They are simply emotions passing through.

And that's ok.

It's when we get stuck in our emotions that we tend to feel frustrated, angry, upset with not being ok.

and not being 'ok', is a-ok in my book.

Not being ok means, I'm ok with who I am, how I am, what I am, where I'm at.

I'm not rubbing up against gravity, trying to pull myself out of where ever I'm at. I'm in the flow. Letting life move through me, with me, of me. I am whole, complete, centered, grounded. I am ok, just the way I am.

And when I am ok with me just the way I am, all is ok in my world.

In his book, A Path with Heart, Jack Kornfield writes,

"We fragment our life and divide ourselves from it when we hold on to ideals of perfection. In ancient China, the Third Zen patriarch taught that "True enlightenment and wholeness arise when we are without anxiety about nonperfection." The body is not perfect, the mind is not perfect, our feelings and relationships will certainly not be perfect. Yet to be without anxiety about nonperfection, to understand that, as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross puts it, "I'm not okay, you're not okay, and that's okay," brings wholeness and true joy, an ability to enter all the compartments of our life, to feel every feeling, to live in our body, and to know a true freedom. ...The purity that we long for is not found in perfecting the world. True purity is found in the heart that can touch all things, enfold all things, and include all things in its compassion."

I borrowed the quote from my blog friend Diane Walkers blog, Contemplative Photography where she posted it yesterday. She's the one reading Kornfield. She's the one who inspired my thinking on being 'ok', and, I'm ok with all of that.

Being not ok's, ok. Being not ok with being not ok is ok too!

It's all ok!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Open to wonder

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. Gerry Spence


Sunday morning. Lazy day. Cloudy skies. Autumn falls lightly all around. Beneath the apple tree in the backyard, sparrows and chickadees flitter. Darting in and out to the feeder. They hop in the grass pecking for fallen seed.

In the house, my beloveds sleep as I type in the quiet of the morning on my computer, Yo Yo Ma a melodic counter note infusing my morning with wonder.

This is the world as it should be. The world after 9/11, after tsunamis and earthquakes and wars and pestilences. This is my world. A quiet safe haven where I am surrounded by those I love. Where I surround those I love with the light of Love.

There is beyond my windows amidst the strife and turmoil, a world of wonder. A world where miracles transpire in the breath of morning rising. A universe where wonder unfolds in the cry of a newborn baby entering this world on the breath of love which inspired its birth. A world where greatness rises within each and every one of us when we let go of our fear that we can never live up to the promise of this world.

We can. Live up to our greatness.

All it takes is to let go of the belief we are not enough.

My experiences in this world are created through my beliefs. My beliefs are built upon my thinking.

Change my thinking. Change my beliefs. Change my experiences.

My daughters are home. Their lives unfolding in ways they never would have imagined even a few short months ago. Both are back at University. Both are working. Liseanne and I visited the neurologist this week and she is scheduled for another MRI and EEG later this month. The possibility of getting her license back within the year is more clear than it was when she first had a seizure three months ago. The possibility of living with this disorder called epilepsy is more evident.

Alexis starts classes tomorrow. She's bought her books, is excited about the plays she will read, the studies she will uncover. "There are a lot of 18 and 19 year olds at the University," she said after coming home from the University bookstore. "I feel so old,"

I laughed. At twenty-four, she has no idea what it feels like to feel old!

They're both working, thriving and living together under this roof. Side by side, best friends forever.

Summer discord has eased into autumnal harmony for C.C. and I. Time to ponder, to think, to wonder, to assess has given way to the realization that Love is always the answer. The Loving path always the way to harmony. We have re-committed to move forward with re-building, re-calibrating this relationship that has withstood many tests, many falls from favour. In our commitment to be committed to each other, we change the belief that 'endings' are better than working things out. Ending is sometimes just the path of least resistance. Sometimes the place to ease the pain of working it out. In changing our beliefs, we change our experiences.

Summer has eased into autumn and all is well with my world.

May all be well with yours. In light and love, have a blessed Sunday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

One whole of many parts

Patience: it takes time to travel to places of the heart. Cassandra Frear @ MoonBoat Cafe
I am sitting in bed this morning, my laptop open, the windows open, the blinds raised. Outside birds twitter and poke at the grass, eating, flitting about, chirping. Marley, The Great Cat sleeps at my feet. He's not allowed out in the mornings. Too many tempting 'treats on a wing' enticing his feline mastery of the hunt.

Today is September 11th. It is a day of remembrance. Of linking back to a day nine years ago when the skies quietened across north America. A day when terror hit home changed our world.

It is also a day of celebration.

It is my nieces birthday. My friend Jane's daughter, Christie's birthday and it is the ninth anniversary of the opening of the 'new' DI -- the shelter where I work.

It was not an auspicious day to have an opening celebration nine years ago. The focus of the world was on two towers crumbling in New York. On a plane barrelling into the Pentagon and another crashing into a cornfield, a plane from which cellphone calls chronicled the horror of what was unfolding and spoke to the power of the human spirit to remember Love.

The shelter where I work had not yet opened its doors to guests -- the old building was still in use, the 'new' quarters to be filled the following week. And then, the planes crashed, the skies closed and passengers were stranded at airports across the country. Passengers stranded at Calgary International needed a place to stay. Some came to the shelter. 84 of them. And on that horrific day, they found a place to call home until the skies opened up again.

Lives changed. Lives ended. Lives began on that day. No matter the events that transpired on that day nine years ago, today it is Love we must remember, must hold onto, must breathe into if we are to heal, to grow, to evolve beyond the anger and fear and revulsion of what happened. To grow beyond hatred we must shift into that space where it is not man against man separating our thinking into us and them -- but man for man connecting us through love into this place where we are one planet, one people, one universe, one whole of many parts.

It is love that makes us whole.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Live each day out loud

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. Franz Kafka
It was her guitar case I noticed first. She held it tucked against her side, protective, possessive, caring. She walked into my office, shook my hand and said in her deep and husky voice, "I'm so grateful to meet you."

A co-worker had brought her to see me. She's a musician, song-writer, songstress. He wanted me to help her 'connect' with the music world in our city. "See if there's anything you can do to help her move forward," he suggested.

He followed her into my office, closed the door and after her greeting said, "Before we start to talk about what we came for, I wonder if there's anything you can do to help her with something that happened this morning?"

And they both proceeded to tell me what had transpired.

The second floor area of the shelter where I work is a big open space where meals are served. It's open all day long, from 6am to 9pm for anyone who wants to come and sit and relax, chat, play cards, read a book, watch a little TV, or simply rest their head on a table top as they sit on their chair. It can be very crowded -- we'll serve 1,000 dinners regularly -- and, because of the crowding, staff are always conscious of the need to maintain relations between clients. To 'keep the peace'.

That morning, she had been playing her guitar at the table where she was seated and a staff member had quickly approached and said, "We don't allow that here." He told her it was a rule and she was breaking it.

End of story.

"I don't get it," she said. "I've done the same thing other days and nobody's said anything."

I phoned down to the second floor Supervisor and asked, "Is it a rule people can't play guitars at their table?"

"Not really," he replied. "It's just if the floor is crowded, we discourage it because tempers can fly really quickly."

The challenges of managing 300+ people on the floor. When the staff to client ratio is anywhere from 50 - 1 to 100 - 1, rules are imposed on the fly.

We talked about other areas where she could comfortably play. "Other clients get upset when I play there," she told me when I suggested a corner of the Hygiene area.

"Would you be willing to come up to the music studio and volunteer?"

Her face lit up. She nodded her head. Smiled. "Absolutely. I'd love to teach singing. Harmony. There's lots I could do." She paused, touched the black case of her guitar. "Would you like me to play a song?"

And she did.

"Live each day out loud."

May you be as moved to live out loud as I was by her song.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Syncopation

Life is part positive and part negative. Suppose you went to hear a symphony orchestra and all they played were the little happy high notes. Would you leave soon? Let me hear the rumble of the bass, the crash of the cymbals and the minor keys. Jim Rohn
In the crash of cyberspace a minor key is often this thing called, "SPAM". For over three years I have resisted putting in 'word verification' for those leaving comments on my blog. No more. The dissonance of the crashing cymbals of invitations for sex and drugs and rocking whatever a devious mind deems appropriate have become too much. If you go to leave a comment today, you'll be asked to type in a word verification.

The times they are a changing.

It's funny how that little step annoys me. Not on other people's blogs. I don't mind typing in the verification word. In fact, sometimes it's fun just to figure out a meaning for the randomly selected letters.

But here, in my place, it annoys me. It annoys me because it highlights how the few can change everything for the many.

The ripple of the few affects everyone. We are each responsible for our ripple and when we set out to create ripples of discord, everyone is touched.

Which is why I have resisted putting in word verification in the past. I did not want to be dictated to by the actions of the few.

Reality is. SPAM has increased on my blog. I receive more and more SPAM comments every day and thus, have chosen to accept reality and do what must be done to protect the integrity of my blog, and to be responsible to those who come to visit. Because, if I open up a virus with a comment, or post something that leaves someone else open to infection or viewing some distasteful or questionable content, I am not behaving with integrity. I am not taking care.

Perhaps it is that thsi blog respresents the most simple and gratifying purpose for me -- to be of service. This blog is my act of service every morning. It satisfies my need to write every day, and, it is meant to inspire others in their act of awakening to the wonder and joy of their day too.

I've added Comment Verification on my blog. I've added a layer of security.

I don't have to look at it as crashing cymbals and discordant notes. I can choose to look at it as an act of service. An act of doing the right thing to take care of business, to be conscious of the needs of those I serve. As my opportunity to act responsibly in our wired up universe of hyper-connectivity where syncopated notes strike discord if left to wander cyberspace unimpeded.

Perhaps in doing 'the right thing' -- by limiting spam, I will encourage those who wish to create discordance to see value and the gift of creating ripples that resonate harmoniously in a world where their syncopation does no harm.

It's a nice thought -- then again, it could be the spam is coming from a computer somewhere that has no idea what havoc it wreaks with its invitation to 'click here'. The computer is the drone. Doing what it does because it can. Because it was programmed to do so. The originator is the one who needs enlightenment. And the originator is oblivious to the impact of his or her actions...

My little blog is growing up. Learning that to be safe it must first be a safe place to visit. To be of value, it must protect the value within from those who would act without integrity, from those who would take advantage of its open spaces.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Breathing again.

Claiming that you have got the truth wrapped up does breed violence and intolerance. Timothy Radcliffe
There is a word that keeps popping into my mind. I know I need to pay attention. I know it holds information for me. Learning. Perhaps a stretch or two.

I know this word is a trigger point for me. A hot spot. A word that grates against the bone, burrows into my skin and raises my temperature.

I know it is an important word for me.

And I don't like it.

Because, in judging others with this word, I know I am guilty. I know I am responsible for its presence in my life.

And the word is, Intolerance.

I saw it yesterday. Talked about it. Spoke of it, on it, around it, in it. Felt its presence. Felt is limitations, its grinding out of all that is beautiful and unique and graceful in the human spirit.

It was a small thing that triggered my reaction.

And in that small thing, big things rose up within me.

Anger. Jealousy. Fear.

A whole host of emotions that speak of my human condition. That open me up to my human frailty. That constrict my human being.

Intolerance limits me. Intolerance makes me the persecutor. The bully. The aggressor.

Intolerance is not what I want in my life.

And the only way to get through it, is to move through it. To live in it. To be in the emotions that sweep over me like a fog drifting in from coastal waters.

For me, recognizing my intolerance opens me up to embracing my ability to change, to grow, to learn, to move through it into that place where I accept what is, as it is, as you are, as they are, as I am, as we are.

Intolerance holds a gift.

My journey is to open up to it and be aware of the light shining behind its darkness. To embrace the shadows lurking at the edge of my humanity, calling me to shine.

Yup. Gotta let intolerance go and move into acceptance.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Gotta breathe into the darkness and shine brilliantly in the light of Love.

Nameste.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I hope

He is short. Spry. Wiry. He walks with two canes, his hips riddled with arthritis, his body twisted through years of heavy lifting, of pushing steel, of pumping iron. He is only 57 but his body is worn down, worn out like an octogenarian's. But his smile is wide. His eyes bright.

"Any day above ground is a good day," he tells me as he manoeuvres his way into my office and sits down in the blue chair across from me. "I've been coming to this place for over 35 years. I'm just stopping off for a visit on my way to Toronto to visit family and friends," he says with a laugh. "I'm not staying. Got my own place out in Vancouver now. I just like to come back to see old friends and make new ones."

He is hitch-hiking his way across Canada. West to East. "I'll probably fly back," he says. "My daughter's kinda worried about me."

He's been living in Vancouver for about ten years. The last three in his own place. "I'm real happy about that. Got a disability pension. Got me a real nice apartment downtown. I'm surrounded by million dollar condos and I pay a peanuts." He laughs. A big hearty laugh. And then he winces. "Pain gets me sometimes. I've learned to live with it but sometimes a laugh or a cough will pull the wrong way. Like me. Always pulling the wrong way through life." And he laughs again.

He's always lived 'on the move'. Travelled across Canada, the US from coast to coast many times. Had hundreds of jobs. Paid his way where ever he went, staying at shelters and flea bag hotels all over the continent.

The longest job he held was four and a half years with the 'carnie'. "I was a Supervisor. Had a crew of 37. Made good money. Real good money. But, I had a kid and I didn't want her to grow up in the Carnie."

And he laughs again. "I built a house. Set my wife and kid up and I started travelling again. And one day, I went home and they were gone."

He shrugs. "That's life."

He's been a carpenter, competition winning hair stylist, welder, plumber, electrician, restoration specialist. "I even built three houses. My dad still lives in one of them."

He likes learning how to do new things. Calls himself a jack of all trades and a Master of a 'whole bunch'. "I even painted portraits. Only thing I haven't done is heart surgery."

He is charming. Funny. Humble. Real.

And I can't get over the fact he's hitch-hiking across Canada, walking with two canes.

"Gets me lots of sympathy rides," he says. "Except for those folks of course who think I'm going to beat them with my canes."

His daughter is not happy with his choice to hitch his way. "She wanted me to fly but I figure this is probably my last trip like this. I kinda don't want to give it up. I like travelling. Liked this life. A lot."

'This life' began in his late teens. "I had my first blackout at 12," he tells me. "I was a little kid who grew up to have a Little Man Complex. Nothing scared me and with the drink, nothing hurt me."

His family always worried about him. He's had three wives. A son. A daughter.

And now, grandkids.

"I love those kids. They're why I finally got sobered up and applied for social assistance. I wanted to spend time with my grandkids and my daughter wouldn't let me unless I had my own place." He pauses. Smiles. "I love those kids. And they love me."

Family, he says, is everything.

"This place," [the homeless shelter where I work and where he is stopping by] "has always treated me like family. It's a real important place."

Here, he says, people are accepted for who they are, not who they could be if they just... And he lists the things people have told him to do and be. "Get a job. Sober up. Quit running away. Settle down."

"Settling down. It's just not in me. Even now, I have my own place and it's great and all that, but I'm a rover. Always have been. I like seeing new places, meeting new people. It don't make me bad. It just makes me who I am."

"It's why this place has always been so important to me. You're not judged on your behaviour in this place. You're accepted as a human being. Not a bum."

Life on the road today though, is different than life on the road back when he was young, he tells me.

"Back when I first came here, it was the old, old building, the one before the one that's called 'the old DI' now. You couldn't sleep there. Just get a coffee, sandwich if you were lucky. You could visit. Check in with people. I was there when they tore it down and built the new 'old DI'. Being there taught me lots. I learned how to volunteer here. Giving back became real important. I still volunteer out in Vancouver. I never wanted to be a burden. I just wanted to be free."

And now his freedom is coming to an end. "I know I can't keep doing this [hitch-hiking across the country]. My daughter's real upset and scared for me. I'm kinda scared for me too sometimes. When I left Vancouver, I tied one on. I just sorta checked out for five days. I camped along the way and I bought myself some booze and got lost. Nothing bad," he says lifting up one cane and pointing it towards me like a school teacher shaking her finger at a rowdy class. "I just had to shake out the cobwebs."

He sighs. Places his cane back to lean against the chair beside him. He slumps back into the chair.

"Sometimes, change is just real hard to take."

And he sits up again. Suddenly. A smile once again lighting up his face.

"But you know, I got my own place. I'm in a different chapter of my life now. I got my daughter. Grandkids. I even got a barbecue on my deck where I make them hot dogs and hamburgers."

He nods his head. Shakes it a bit as if he can't believe his luck.

"I just hope people know how grateful I am for what I've got. This place gave me so much, I just hope people know how important this place is."

And he struggles to get back on his feet.

"I gotta be in Toronto by the 25th. I hope I can make it."

I hope he does too.

Today is Blog Carnival Tuesday. The one word prompt for today is, "Hope". Pop on over to Bridget Chumbley's place and immerse yourself in wonder at all the great writings about Hope.

And then, drop into Carry on Tuesday where a prompt from a famous poem or prose is given to inspire more writing. Today's Carry On Tuesday prompt comes from the first words of Chapter 1 of Mark Twain's 1884 classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: You don't know about me. . . .

To read other Carry on Tuesday contributors' poems or prose for Prompt #69, go here.

To read my entry, carry on below! I've combined both Blog Carnival and Carry One Tuesday prompts in a poem.

And... it's fun. Seriously. Give it a try. Pick one or both prompts and let your creative essence flow.

I Hope

I hope
you don't know
about me.

About those things
I've done
to not be
who you wanted
me to be.

I hope
you don't know me
like I used to know me.

In those times
when I lost all hope
of seeing
me
as you see me.

I hope
you don't know
the things I did
to get here.

The people I hurt
the things I said
that kept me safe
from knowing me
as someone
you would want to know.

I hope
you can forgive me
for having used
Your name
in vain.

It was my vanity
holding me
in the darkness
of believing
I had no place
in Your heart.

Monday, September 6, 2010

In Summer's last light.

In Summer's Last Light

In the tired slant of summer's
last light
edging through
an open door
she sits and waits
for autumn
leaves
falling

falling into piles
of red and gold
and burnished copper
dreams
discarded
drifting

drifting down
upon remembrances
of summer
long ago
lost

lost
in a tangled web
of hopes and dreams
where youth
was spent
living out upon the edges
of red hot
footprints
dancing

dancing
in the waves
crashing back into
the sands of time
passing

passing
down

down through the years
of promised time
to love
and dream
and fall
in wild abandon
into happily ever after.

In summer's last light
she sits
waiting

waiting
patiently
hands folded

folded
still
upon her lap
sifting time
through
gnarled fingers
tested by time
aching

aching
for rest
her limbs
holding
vainly
to a leaf
yet to fall.

I didn't know I would write this poem this morning. I was reading my Blog List and saw the photo "Barn Door" Nancy posted at her amazing site, "Ballyhoo Hobnob Crossroads" (in my Blog List it's 'Poems and Prayers') and suddenly, the words fell from my fingertips, just like late summer's light through the open barn door of Nancy's photo.

Get inspired this morning -- check out Nancy's post, Late Summer with the photo Barn Door -- it's beautiful.

Thank you Nancy for the inspiration.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Beauty and grace in motion

It is a rainy morning here on the eastern foot of the Rockies. Rainy and soothing. Soft light. Soft air. Soft touch.

To honour the magic of this morning I share with you something magical I found at Ted.com.

In the Ted notes, it says, Two Pilobolus dancers perform "Symbiosis." Does it trace the birth of a relationship? Or the co-evolution of symbiotic species? Music: "God Music," George Crumb; "Fratres," Arvo Part; "Morango…Almost a Tango," Thomas Oboe Lee.

I don't know what Symbiosis 'traces' -- there is such beauty in the dance it traces 'life'. What it does is show the incredible talent, grace and trust of two dancers whose names are never revealed in the programming.

Their dance is beautiful and haunting and inspiring to watch.




For more on Philobolus Dance, click here.

Have a beautiful Labour Day Weekend Sunday.

Nameste.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Body Worlds

“Flat is not an acceptable position. We are always expected to grow.” Carolyn Reidy, CEO, Simon & Schuster

While Ms Reidy is speaking of the publishing business, the same can be said of life -- we are always expected to grow -- whether we like it or not.

Last night we went to Gunther von Hagen's Body Worlds and the Brain exhibit. Colour me gruesome but I was fascinated by the inner workings and intricacies of the human body and mind. By the fetus still in situ in the womb, the fat laden slice of an obese man's body, the brain of an Alzheimer victim.

Fascinating.

And today, I'm off to get my body, mind and spirit uplifted. To the gym. To Banff and to dinner with my family.

what a lovely way to spend a Saturday.

Here's wishing you a day of rest and joy and peace. A day to revel in the wonders of your body and you awaken to the wonders of the world around you.

nameste.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Birth Canal Funnies

I've decided to become a funny woman -- of the stand-up comedian type.

I know. I know. But you're not very funny Louise, you're thinking.

But, it's never too late to become who you've always dreamt of being. Right? And I've always dreamt of being one of those people who when you mention their name you just automatically say, 'They're so funny.'

And as it stands now, I'm the only person I know who says, "I'm so funny." about me. Seriously. My family look at me like I'm nuts when I say it. "Mum," my daughters say after I remind them of my funny state of being, and after they're rolled their eyes so far back into their cranial spaces they look like slot machines rolling up dice when they spin back (see, wasn't that funny?). "You're not funny."

It seems, 'not' and 'funny' are ever connected where I'm concerned.

But.... Wait for it! I've decided to change my stripes into dots. This tiger's becoming a leper. I mean leopard.

And it's all because of not having had my daughters 'the natural way'.

Yeah. You know. Labour. Push for 48 hours. Pop out. Walk over hunched and sore for weeks.

That was not me as I explained to a girlfriend yesterday who is about to have her second home birth. Seriously. They've got the birthing bath all set up in their master bedroom. Extra towels. The Douala on speed dial and loads of candles all set to burn the midnight oil just so her child can come into this world in the safety of their home.

Not me. My girls were, as my youngest daughter calls it, 'pulled from the womb' against their will.

"I wasn't ready to pop out and you just yanked me out," she told me last night as I was practicing my funny schtick on them.

See, when I was about eight months pregnant with my eldest daughter Alexis, my gyno told me after peering into those dark spaces where my mother told me no one should ever be peering, "Hmmmm, Louise. It appears you have an incompetent cervix."

Excuse me?

"Yes. An incompetent cervix. Nothing seems to be happening."

Hello. I am a woman. How can I have an incompetent cervix.

Seems it's not impossible. Particularly if your mother took a certain drug while pregnant with you. And way back then... who knows what drugs our mother's took? They're not telling.

But apparently, the cervix doesn't lie and mine was telling me, "I'm incompetent."

Harumph.

Which is what lead me to lying in my hospital bed several weeks later with a beautiful, perfect baby girl beside me, swimming in an ocean of love when a woman walked into my hospital room, arms laden with pamphlets.

"Hi" she said, smile bright as I'm sure they're taught to be in the sensitivity training course they must take to become mentors in the Women of Cesarean Birth Support Group.

Uh huh. that's right. A support group for women who've delivered via Cesarean birth. Or rather, as she told me in a hushed and slippery voice, 'women who have not experienced the joy of natural child birth.'

"The devastating loss you must be feeling is not forever," she told me as she handed me a multitude of pamphlets filled with helpful tips on how to deal with my loss. "Not having had the capacity to push your child into the world can crush women. We're here to help. In fact, there's a meeting of the group this afternoon and we strong suggest you come."

Hello? I'm lying here with a perfect baby girl. She's perfect. Seriously perfect. And I'm not feeling any loss. I'm kind feeling kind of high.

Granted that could be from the gas they'd given me but hell, I still felt mighty fine. I definitely wasn't feeling any sense of loss, or having missed out on some sacred right of passage through the birth canal.

I shooed her away and eyed the materials she'd left. Was I missing out? Was there really something wrong with me. I mean, I did have that incompetent cervix thingie going on. Maybe there was more I should be feeling 'cause seriously, I wasn't feeling all that bad. I hadn't had an ounce or moment of labour. I wasn't walking around hunched over like the other women on the maternity floor. I didn't have a cazillions stitches holding my thingie 'down there' together and I could get in and out of bed without crying. Granted I couldn't sneeze or laugh very easily but hey, I was in love, I didn't care.

Ahh, the things we don't know.

And so, as I prepare to become a stand up I think my first schtick will be my Incompetent self dilemma. In fact, I'm going to have to think about how to add in the bit about the pamphlet that lovely lady of the Cesarean blues left behind that talked about the psychological impact on children who have not come into this world through descending through the birth canal.

Apparently, there's a whole other support group for them too. Because, wouldn't you know it, there's a reason for their pain too!

My daughters are relieved. They always knew there was something wrong with them. Now they've got the scoop -- they didn't have to force their way into this world by crawling through confined spaces. They were, as Liseanne called it, 'pulled out'.

Against their will, I might add. Hell, if I'd just left them in there I'd probably have made the Guinness Book of Records as the longest gestation period in history.

Oh well, maybe I have to go back and redo all those years of therapy and Gestalt and rebirthing and regression and omming and ahhing and meditating and...

Nah.

think I'll settle for becoming a stand-up comic. I mean really, I've got the story of a lifetime!

So there!

PS -- I had twenty minutes to write this so... not my fault if it's not that funny. I'm off to the gym to get trim. Must run!